Staff

Dr. Kristen DeVall

Co-Director

Kristen E. DeVall received her Ph.D. in sociology from Western Michigan University in 2008. At present she is the Co-Director of the National Drug Court Resource Center & a professor of sociology and criminology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She has conducted evaluations of numerous treatment court programs and other criminal justice initiatives in Michigan and North Carolina since 2004. She has conducted several statewide evaluations (i.e., Michigan’s Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program & North Carolina’s Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities) which involved the collection and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data. Recent publications have appeared in Crime & Delinquency, Sociological Imagination, The Journal of Drug Issues, The Prison Journal, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, and Substance Use and Misuse. Dr. DeVall has also garnered over $10 million in grant funding from SAMHSA, BJA, and others to support various treatment courts & other criminal justice programs. In addition, she worked as a case manager for a community corrections program in Kalamazoo, Michigan for seven years. Providing direct services to individuals involved with the criminal justice system allowed her to see firsthand how the system operates and identify opportunities for system-level and policy change. Overall, her work seeks to bridge the gap between academia and practitioners, as well as influence the development of evidence-based policies and practices. In her spare time, Kristen enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling with her husband John and German Shepherd dog Riley, attending classes at Orange Theory, frequenting locally-owned eateries, & boating on Lake Michigan in the summer.

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Dr. Christina Lanier

Co-Director

Christina Lanier is the Co-Director of the National Drug Court Resource Center (NDCRC) and a professor of sociology and criminology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Delaware in 2006. She has extensive experience in the area of grant writing and program evaluation. She conducts program evaluations for specialty courts in North Carolina and is a co-evaluator for a local re-entry program. Other recent projects include a statewide evaluation of the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program (SSSPP) in Michigan, an evaluation of the North Carolina Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC), and an evaluation of the mental health service delivery in Wayne County, MI jails. Her work has been published in Substance Use and Misuse, International Journal of Offender Therapy, Journal of Drug Issues, The Prison Journal, and The Journal of American College Health. Dr. Lanier’s focus in on linking the work of researchers with practitioners to make policy and social change.

Dr. Sally MacKain

Director of Clinical Treatment

Sally MacKain, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology at UNC Wilmington and is a Licensed Psychologist. She is also Director of Clinical Training for UNCW’s new PhD Program in General Clinical Psychology. After receiving her PhD from UNC Chapel Hill, she was a postdoctoral scholar with UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute/Center for the Study of Schizophrenia. Her research focuses on evidence-based practices in recovery from mental illness and substance use, especially with for people involved in the criminal justice system. She has published research on social and independent living skills training programs in prisons and the effects of coercion on motivation and engagement in substance use and mental health treatment and served as an evaluator for a BJA and SAMHSA-funded treatment court program. Dr. MacKain teaches courses related to ethical mental health practice and cultural competence and is committed to reducing stigma and advocating for broader access to effective treatments. She is co-editor of Drug Court Review and serves as treatment content reviewer for NDCRC.

Dr. Jeanne Persuit

Director of Marketing & Communications

Jeanne M. Persuit, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Graduate Coordinator for the M.A. Integrated Marketing Communication program. Dr. Persuit teaches courses in integrated marketing communication, public relations, advertising, and communication ethics. Her research area is the rhetoric and philosophy of integrated marketing communication and communication ethics. She is the editor of the Integrated Marketing Communication Series, published by Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield. Dr. Persuit is the author of Social Media and Integrated Marketing Communication and describes social media as a form of epideictic rhetoric (speech that praises or blames). She argues organizations should practice rhetorical decorum to become more ethical and effective communicators. She also serves as the Director of Marketing & Communication for the National Drug Court Resource Center, housed at UNCW in the Social Science Applied Research Center, and funded by a $1.6 million U.S. Department of Justice grant. Before returning to Duquesne University for her Ph.D., Dr. Persuit worked in integrated marketing communication in the consulting engineering field and was a marketing communications manager for a Fortune 500 manufacturing company. She is co-advisor, with Dr. Bill Bolduc, of Pier 601 Creative, a student-run integrated marketing communication agency.

Dr. Ron Vetter

Director of Information Technology

Dr. Ron Vetter is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Vetter received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in computer science from North Dakota State University and his PhD in computer science from the University of Minnesota. He has published more than 120 journal, conference, and technical papers and has served as the PI or Co-PI on grants and contracts exceeding $8.7 million dollars. His research has been supported by the USWEST Foundation, NSF, DoD, USDA, NASA, US Department of Justice, and others. Over the past twenty-five years, he has held numerous leadership and academic positions, as well as starting two technology companies (Mobile Education in 2007 and PowerPlay Mobile in 2010). From 2013-2018, Dr. Vetter served as the Associate Provost for Research (Chief Research Officer) and Dean of the Graduate School at UNC Wilmington. One of his primary areas of responsibility included oversight of the university’s technology transfer and commercialization efforts, including a public-private research & development millennial campus with startup biotechnology tenants and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), a business startup incubator and meeting/events facility. During Vetter’s tenure, more than 100 companies were incubated in the entrepreneurship center and the millennial campus. Dr. Vetter is editor-in-chief emeritus of Computer, the flagship publication of the IEEE Computer Society and has served on the editorial board since 1995. He is currently the department editor for the monthly “Spotlight on Transactions” column. He previously served on the editorial advisory board of Communications of the ACM, the flagship publication of the ACM, from 1996-2008, and was an ACM Distinguished Lecturer. He was selected as the 2001-2002 ACM Outstanding Lecturer of the Year. Vetter is a frequent consultant to business and industry on technology commercialization, patent litigation, and other computer science related topics.

Ben Yerby, M.A.

Integrated Marketing Communication Specialist

Ben Yerby graduated cum laude from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) in 2017 with a B.A. in Communication Studies and a minor in Digital Arts. Furthermore, Ben earned an M.A. in Interactive Media from Elon University. While his professional knowledge is rooted in integrated marketing communication and advertising, Ben brings a multimedia and interactive approach to his work. His knowledge and practice includes, but is not limited to, brand development, graphic design, photography, video production, web design and development, and data visualization. He currently serves as the Integrated Marketing Communication Specialist at the National Drug Court Resource Center. In that capacity, Ben is focused on developing and maintaining brand consistency, testing and enhancing the user experience of the Center’s website, and coordinating the design and production of all publications such as the Data Digest. In addition, he provides creative direction for video and multimedia projects, as well as produce the NDCRC’s Justice to Healing podcast.

Savannah Bryson

Program Coordinator

Savannah Bryson graduated summa cum laude from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Sociology. During this time, she coordinated the Hillcrest Reading Program, training UNCW students to tutor children in Wilmington with limited literacy resources. She spent two years as a caseworker for the Department of Social Services and moved within the county to the public library, where she continued to link clients to critical services in the community. Savannah currently serves as the program coordinator for the National Drug Court Resource Center at UNCW, connecting projects, working with practitioners, and reporting progress to the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

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Kenneth McMillan

Technology Support Specialist

Kenneth McMillan is the Technology Support Specialist for National Drug Court Resource Center. In Spring 2020, he joined the team as an undergraduate student employee while attending the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Upon earning his B.S. in Computer Science in May 2020, Kenneth joined the team full-time. Prior to returning to school, he spent 4 years in the United States Army working for the Directorate of Information Management. Kenneth then served 4 years in the North Carolina National Guard. During that time, he was activated and deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Kenneth maintains all technical operations within the Center including, but not limited to, the continued development of the website, data collection and architecture, implementing experimental visualization projects, and executing effective user testing.